The entrance to this mews is to the right of the Prince Albert
pub in Pembridge Road
. It runs down the backs of numbers 1-7 (odds) Ladbroke Road
and presumably served as stabling for these and for the pub. It was probably first built up in the late 1840s or 1850s, and its original name may have been Victoria Mews – although it is already shown as a nameless alley on the 1862-5 Ordnance Survey map. By the time of the 1881 census, it had been named or renamed Prince Albert
Mews or Albert Mews, a name it retained until into the 1930s, presumably because of its proximity to the Prince Albert
pub. It seems then to have been renamed Bulmer Mews by association with nearby Bulmer Place, a road which ran roughly where the service road now is for the shops on the north-west side of Notting Hill Gate
(and which disappeared in the great 1950s redevelopment of Notting Hill Gate
Bulmer Place originally had two entrances, both through archways. One was in Pembridge Road
down the south side of the Prince Albert
(where the lorries now turn in to service the shops on the north-west side of Notting Hill Gate
). A branch of the mews then turned south to emerge into Notting Hill Gate
roughly where the current tower block is.
The original buildings consisted of stables with living premises above. The 19th century census returns list seven or eight dwellings in the mews, mostly occupied by people associated with horses in one way or another – there were several grooms or coachmen; an omnibus horsekeeper; a dealer in horses; and in 1901 a fruiterer’s carman and a draper’s carman.
As the motor car replaced horse-drawn transport, the mews probably lost some of its residents, and became a fairly scruffy place. By the 1930s it appears to have been considered ripe for redevelopment, as in 1936 a planning application was made to develop both the Mews and 1-7 Ladbroke Road
as a theatre. The application was granted, but the scheme did not go ahead. During the Second World War, an overground air raid shelter was erected in the mews, and after the war Kensington Public Library used this structure for a local branch, the Bulmer Mews Library. The library remained there until 1955, when the old air raid shelter was demolished.
Any buildings that remained were by this time probably in a pretty parlous condition. Already in 1946, when the brewery that owned the Prince Albert
applied to Kensington Borough Council for planning permission to use part of the mews for offices and warehouses, a Council planning officer commented that it would involve pulling down “three or four very dilapidated stables with flats over, which are at present unfit for habitation”. Ownership of the mews seems to have been shared by then between the brewery (which owned the entrance to the Mews) and the playwright Ashley Duke of the Mercury Theatre
(he was the husband of Dame Marie Rambert, whose eponymous ballet company was based at the Mercury). Duke had another go in 1975 at obtaining planning permission for a theatre, this time as part of a six-story office block. But his application was refused and for much of the next nine years a garden centre occupied the Mews.
The Mercury Theatre
finally sold the mews “to alleviate financial pressures”, and in 1984 the new owner finally obtained permission to build the current mews houses.